International support for rescuing miners was ‘comforting’, says company president
The recent successful rescue of two miners trapped in a mine in the Dominican Republic for more than a week was made possible thanks to the support of the international community, including direct assistance from the Royal Canadian Air Force, according to the president of the company at the center of the incident.
Paul Marinko, head of the Dominican Mining Company known as Cormidom, said Canada played a vital role in transporting the equipment that was eventually used to help free the men of Operation Cerro from Maimon.
The miners’ ordeal saw Gregores Mendez and Carlos Yepez spend 10 days trapped 31 meters below the surface from July 31 to August 9.
Marinko said national support for the rescue effort was strong, with Dominican President Luis Abinader calling daily to check on the status of the rescue and various government departments providing direct support on the ground.
But he added that experts from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom were also involved and that the Canadian government had played a key role in obtaining and supplying equipment for the rescue operation.
“It was heartwarming to see this response,” Marinko said in a Zoom interview.
Marinko said the company sprang into action immediately after the “land fall” which left the miners confined to a 400 square meter space. Within 15 hours of the incident, he said crews involved in the rescue dug a hole through which they delivered water, food, walkie-talkies, entertainment and a light source. .
Nonetheless, Marinko said the experience would have been terrifying for both men.
The miners eventually reported rising waters that eventually reached waist-level, but Marinko says they were able to pump the water out at six times the speed of the inflow.
“You can imagine being trapped, seeing the waters rising and knowing the rescue isn’t going to be quick, so they’ve been through some terrifying times,” he said.
After assessing what equipment would be needed to rescue the miners safely, Marinko said the company began trying to track it down overseas.
Machines Rogers International, a mining company based in Val D’Or, Quebec. agreed to lend the necessary machinery to Cormidom and the Dominican government contacted Ottawa for assistance in transporting the equipment.
“The problem for us was to transport…it was just beyond our resources, we didn’t have the capacity to do that,” Marinko said.
The Royal Canadian Air Force transported the mining excavation system to the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo on August 7. Two days later, the miners were rescued with the help of a team sent by Machines Rogers International.
Defense Minister Anita Anand tweeted on Tuesday thanking Royal Canadian Air Force personnel involved in the mission.
“To our Airmen – you make Canadians proud and we are grateful for your service,” Anand wrote.
Marinko said the two miners were discharged from hospital on Thursday and are now with their families.
The rescue comes after a coal mine collapse in Mexico left 15 miners trapped, five of whom escaped with injuries. Initial attempts by rescue divers to reach the remaining 10 miners have failed, Mexican authorities said Thursday.
“I think of those poor men trapped in Mexico,” Marinko said. “We were lucky.”
The cause of the incident at Cerro de Maimón is currently under investigation and the underground mine is temporarily closed.
“When the authorities and more importantly when I’m convinced it’s safe, we’ll go back,” Marinko said.
Nojoud Al Mallees, The Canadian Press